This eel pâté is remarkably like coulibiac, a Russian dish which is popular in France today. Coulibiac consists of layers of sturgeon, hard-boiled/cooked eggs, chopped mushrooms, and rice, all enclosed in pastry. Even the accompanying sauces are similar; modern chefs would serve both melted butter (La Varenne puts butter inside the pâté) and hollandaise, which closely resembles La Varenne’s sauce, which he refers to as white. It is possible that he whisked the egg yolks and verjuice together over very low heat to form a pale, mousselike sauce, as described below. For fish pâtés like this one, La Varenne suggests a “garnish from the garden, such as mushrooms, truffles, asparagus, hard-cooked egg yolks, artichoke bottoms, capers, chard, pistachios,” but a simple bunch of watercress is acceptable. Salmon is an excellent alternative to eel.
Dress the eels, cut them in rounds and season them; prepare your pastry, and fill it with eel, hard-cooked egg yolks, mushrooms, truffles, if you have them, artichoke bottoms, and good fresh butter. Serve the pâté uncovered, with a white sauce made of egg yolks thinned with verjuice; in case it collapses, fasten it together with buttered paper and string; when cooked, discard the paper.